No matter how many steps you take to build up and protect your image on the internet, there may come a time that it gets attacked. When your online reputation has been damaged by negative information, you’ll need to act immediately to repair it and prevent it from becoming a long-lasting problem. You have a couple of options for damage control.
Before you can do any reputation repair, you need to figure out where the negative information or attacks are coming from. Use the major search engines and social networks to see what is coming up in search results for your name. The sources will probably show up on the first 2 pages in Google, but you should also use a Twitter search or a tool like Social Mention to see where you are showing up in the social networks.
Your first option is to repair the damage yourself. If you need to go the route of repairing your online reputation yourself, the first step is to delete anything negative. If it is something under your own control, such as on a personal blog in a comment, then just go and delete it. Rather than waiting for Google to crawl your site and find the change, you can also use Google’s Webmaster Tools to remove the url from search results. Check in their support sections if you need help with that.
If there is something negative on someone else’s site, you can go to that site’s webmaster and request that it be removed. You can also respond directly if there are comments or complaints about you on a site. Addressing the complaints in a polite and helpful way will actually serve to build up your image further.
Another important step to take is to counter any negative information with positive content. Start regularly posting articles, comments, blog posts, social updates and other information that can push the damaging content way down in the search results. Use whatever SEO tactics you know to promote your positive content to the first pages of Google.
As an extra note, watch carefully for other private data of yours showing up online. If something like your social security number or credit card number is posted, contact Google to have it removed. Search their help functions for the correct url for submitting your request.
The other option is to bring in the hired guns. There are specialist Online Reputation Management services that you can pay to repair your reputation. Depending on the extent of damage, this can turn out to be a very expensive option. However, if you have the funds, it can be the most effective. You can also hire these types of firms to monitor your reputation on an ongoing basis.
Be careful about who you hire to repair and manage your reputation. There are plenty of dishonest or inexperienced consultants who can do more harm than good. Get a recommendation if possible.
Regardless of whether you do it yourself or through the help of a specialist, you need to act fast to repair your online reputation when it has been damaged. A single negative statement about you can go viral quickly and spread throughout the internet. By monitoring your reputation diligently, you can spot the damage before it becomes uncontrollable.